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Woodhouse’s Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)

photo by LA Dawson

Common Name: Woodhouse’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus woodhousii
Family: Bufonidae
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 5 inches max

The Woodhouse’s Toad is found in the western United States and down barely into Mexico. It is named after Samuel Washington Woodhouse, a physician and naturalist. There are three different sub species of Woodhouse’s Toad that some scientists recognize.

  • Southwestern Woodhouse’s Toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii australis
  • East Texas toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii velatu
  • Rocky Mountain toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii



Other Amphibian of the Week

Taylor’s Salamander (Ambystoma taylori )

photo by Ruth Percino Daniel

Common Name: Taylor’s Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma taylori
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander Family
Location: Mexico
Size: 2.3 – 4.4 inches

The Taylor’s Salamander is a neotenic salamander, found only in Laguna Alchichica, a crater lack, in Puebla, Mexico. The lake has very high salinity, at levels that would kill any other salamander species, but not the Taylor’s Salamander. It is somehow able to tolerate it. The Taylor’s Salamander faces difficulties in the lake. The water from the lake is being extracted for irrigation and drinking. The levels of the water is decreasing and the quality of the water is decreasing.

Frog of the Week

Cuban Tree Frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis)

photo by Munkel

Common Name: Cuban Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Osteopilus septentrionalis
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations: Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Cuba
Introduced Locations: Anguilla, Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States (Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas), British Virgin Islands, and US Virgin Islands.
Size: 3 to 5.5 inches

The Cuban Tree Frog is a large tree frog native to the Caribbean but has been introduced to other areas of the world such as Florida. In Florida, the Cuban Tree Frog has become a problem. Their size allows them to eat other smaller frogs and other native animals.  They also can breed year round and it takes only a couple weeks for the tadpoles to reach frog stage. They also can produce skin secretions that can irritate humans.

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Wyoming Toad (Anaxyrus baxteri)

photo by Sara Armstrong

Common Name: Wyoming Toad, Baxter’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus baxteri
Family: Bufonidae
Location: United States – Wyoming
Size: 2 inches

The Wyoming Frog is a federally listed endangered species in the US. It is only found in the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming and in captivity. The number of Wyoming Toads started a sharp decline in the 1970s until there was under 50 individuals left. It is believed that Chytrid fungus, a fungal infection that suffocates the toad, maybe the reason behind the decline. Other possible reasons for the decline including habitat destruction, toxic pesticide use, and climate change. Luckily, some toads were brought into captivity to survive and reproduce but because of the fungus still out in its habitat, the toad population hasn’t been able to bounce back. The future of the toad depends on solving the Chytrid fungus crisis.

Frog of the Week

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus)

photo by Bob Warrick

Common Name: Southern Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates / Rana sphenocephalus
Family: Ranidae
Location: United States – Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia
Size: 5 inches

The Southern Leopard Frog is named after its large spots on its body. They live near shallow, freshwater habitats such as ponds, lakes, and ditches. In the northern part of their range, breeding takes place during the start of spring .While in the southern part, it can happen any month following rains but there are two generally large breeding events during the fall and winter.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Corsican Fire Salamander (Salamandra corsica)

photo by André de Saint-Paul

Common Name: Corsican Fire Salamander
Scientific Name: Salamandra corsica
Family:  Salamandridae
Size:12 inches max

The Corsican Fire Salamander is only found on the Corsica island near France. The salamander generally gives live birth to larvae in ponds and streams. There has been observations of the Corsican Fire Salamander giving birth to fully metamorphosed young.


Salamanders and Newts Defense Mechanisms

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It is a doggy dog world out there and salamanders and newts need ways to protect themselves from doggy dogs. They face threats of being eaten by a variety of different animals from birds, fish, snakes, frogs, raccoons, and even other salamanders. This doesn’t scare salamanders and newts because they have a variety of ways to avoid being eaten.

Poisons and toxins are great way for salamanders and newts to defend themselves against predators. No one wants to eat a salamander or newt if it could make them sick or kill them. Some salamanders try to warn predators that they are poisonous with their bright colors. This is called aposematism.


Other salamanders mimic the colors of poisonous salamanders to trick predators. The Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) resembles the Eastern Newt eft (Notophthalmus viridescens) and it is thought that this keeps predators from eating the Red Salamander.

Rough-skinned Newt  (Taricha granulosa) performing the Unkenreflex

Other salamanders and newts arches their back to show off their stomach, which can be brightly colored, when they are threatened. This is called the Unkenreflex.

Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra) by Didier Descouens

The Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra) can squirt its toxins at any enemies that come near. The Iberian Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl) is able to puncture their ribs through their skin to warn off predators.

Iberian Ribbed Newt photo by wikiuser Pengo

Besides trying to poison a predator, some salamanders try to camouflage into their habitat to hide from the predators. These salamanders and newts tend to be cryptic colors such as green, brown, black, or brown, making it easy to blend in.

Greenhorn Mountains Slender Salamander

Another amazing way that salamanders can protect themselves is actually dropping their tail. This is called caudal autotomy. They drop their tail and hope that the predator tries to eat it instead of them. Then the salamander regrows their tail but at a cost. The tail stores fats and has a role in locomotion. Also dropping the tail can compromise their immune system. Tail dropping is used as a last resort.


Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

photo by the USFW

Common Name: Leatherback Sea Turtle
Scientific Name:  Dermochelys coriacea
Family: Dermochelyidae

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest living species of turtle in the world, weighing up to 1,500 pounds and over 7 feet long. It is also the only extant species in the family Dermochelyidae. The turtle is named after its unusual leathery shell.

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is in trouble of becoming extinct. Some of the threats to them are plastic and chemical pollution, becoming bycatch of fisherman, over-harvesting of their eggs, and climate change. We need to tackle these issues to secure a future for the turtle.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Many Lined Salamander (Stereochilus marginatus)

photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Many Lined Salamander
Scientific Name: Stereochilus marginatus
Family: Plethodontidae
Location: United States – Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: 4.5 inches

The Many Lined Salamander is the only member of the genus Sterochilus. It is found along the coast of southeastern United States in the Atlantic coastal plain. The Many Lined Salamander is more aquatic than most Plethodontid salamanders, they are usually found in swampy streams and pools. They also can lay their eggs in water, and the eggs will hatch into the free swimming larvae stage. It can take the larvae one to two years to fully undergo metamorphosis.

Frog of the Week

Maud Island Frog (Leiopelma pakeka)

photo by D. Garrick


Common Name: Maud Island Frog
Scientific Name: Leiopelma pakeka
Family: Leiopelmatidae
Location: New Zealand
Size: 1.8 inches

The Maud Island Frog is an ancient frog found only in New Zealand, on Maud Island and Motuara Island. These frogs have a long lifespan, averaging 33 years. Scientists aren’t even sure that the Maud Island Frog is a distinct species of frog. When the species was orginally discovered, it was thought to be a subspecies of the Hamilton’s Frog (Leiopelma hamiltoni) until researchers looked at the muscle proteins of the frogs and determined that they were different enough to be two different species. However, new genetic tests showed that there isn’t much difference between the two. Who knows if it will stay as a species.